How many hats have you worn in your life? No, I’m not talking about the one you wear in the snow or that cute blue one or that baseball hat you wear to the game. I’m talking about jobs. About five weeks ago, the five of us were sitting at the table eating supper. No, not profound–we do it every night, but it was one of those rare times when we could actually hold a conversation with Micaiah without being interrupted to no end by Sarah’s or Anna’s antics. Or Micaiah’s (she’s 5).
I had made pan pizza for supper, and somehow Micaiah got to asking something about how I had learned to make and cut pizza. So I told her that once upon a time I worked at Little Caesar’s. Let me tell you, there’s nothing more exciting than coming home smelling like a giant piece of Crazy Bread! Anyway, that got us to rehashing all of the different jobs that Tim and I have had in our lives. His list included working for the county, working in the library (twice), working in the produce department at the grocery store, and working for the Daytona Cubs as a ticket taker. There were a whole lot more, too. Mine included the aforementioned Little Caesar’s, a coffeehouse, teaching band, working as a cashier in a grocery store, and waitressing.
I’ve worn quite a few hats in my day–actually, more like the super-attractive visors attached to food service jobs–and the one that has been haunting me lately is one that I held for the better part of six years: working at SueAnn’s Bagels. I can still tell you what every regular flavor bagel was and what every special bagel of the month was with its accompanying cream cheese.
My sister got a job there first, and a few months later I was done with the Crazy Bread and was able to get a job at SueAnn’s. For a carb-addict like me, this was a great job! A bagel with cream cheese with every 4-hour shift, 6 free bagels every time you worked, and all the coffee you wanted to drink. Our freezer was packed solid with bagels. I learned a lot with this job. I learned how to like coffee. I learned how to slice bagels. I learned how to count change. I learned that reubens aren’t really gross. I learned that lox is.
At first I merely sold the bagels, cleaned up, washed dishes, swept, etc. But then I turned 18–a magic age in the world of SueAnn’s. It meant I could bake the bagels, a skill that came in handy when the baskets were low and it was only 4:00 pm with 2 hours till closing. So, I learned how to bake bagels. (I also learned how to make huge, awesome oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.) And then I learned how to make bagels. There was the one summer midway through my college years when I would get up to work at 2:30 am every Tuesday. I learned that it’s very dark at 2:00 in the morning.
Did I ever think that skill would come in handy? Seriously, would I ever haul around 50-lb. bags of flour again in my life? Well, no, but there were aspects of what I did that have carried into my cooking and baking today. And so the calendar turned to March and thoughts of Carrot Pineapple bagels started dancing through my head. Now, normally I wouldn’t turn my head if you said you had a carrot pineapple anything, but understand that this bagel was topped with coconut. That, my friends, is why I still dream of them. So, could I recreate it? Those recipes are no longer etched into my memory as they once were. Besides, I don’t know if I could do the math to bring them down to a quantity fit for a family. But I knew enough, and with the wonder of the internet, I was able to do a bit of research on homemade bagels.
I knew I couldn’t perfectly recreate the SueAnn’s version, mainly because I don’t have a steaming oven (they didn’t boil their bagels, so they weren’t as chewy on the outside). So, I’d have to compromise a bit. I looked for recipes, and I found one that looked most similar to the method I was used to, where the bagels proof overnight, but I was getting impatient. So I settled on a recipe by Emeril that had more immediate results. It was for a plain bagel, so I had to tweak it to get my carrot-pineapple goodness.
Are they perfect? No. It was my first attempt, and so I now know a few things to hopefully improve them the next time. But are they delicious? Oh, yes! They were some work, though it could be a lot worse than this! They’re close to what I remember. They aren’t as high or thick as the SueAnn’s version. I might add more carrots next time, or perhaps 1/2 tsp more cinnamon. Not sure about the pineapple; it’s probably good and easy at the one can. Honestly, I still have to eat a couple more to really decide what tweaks could be made, but these are still really good and totally worth making. So now I can make Carrot Pineapple bagels anytime I want–even when it’s not March. And for the record, I won’t be making Sourdough Dill next month, but talk to me in August… there might just be Peach bagels with Peaches & Cream cream cheese around here. 🙂
Carrot Pineapple Bagels
- 2 cups warm water, about 110 degrees F
- 2 (1/4-ounce) packets active dry yeast
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 6 to 7 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 20-oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
- 1-1/2 cups grated carrots
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
- 1-2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
Combine the water, yeast, and 3 tablespoons of the sugar in the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with a dough hook. Stir and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Gradually add 4 cups of the flour and the salt, and mix until the mixture comes together.
Add pineapple, carrots, cinnamon, and 2 to 3 cups additional flour 1/2 cup at a time to make a stiff dough, either stirring with the wooden spoon or working with your hands. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and no longer sticky, about 5 minutes, adding just as much flour as needed. (Dough should be heavier and stiffer than regular yeast bread dough.)
Grease a large bowl with 1 teaspoon of the oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until almost doubled, about 1 hour.
Remove from the bowl and punch down the dough. Divide into 12 equal pieces (you could make them smaller, if you want, which would mean you’d get more than 12). Form each piece of dough into a ball. Poke your finger through the center of the ball and stretch out to make a ring. Place on a lightly greased surface. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cover with a clean cloth or plastic wrap, and let rest until risen but not doubled in a draft-free spot, 20 to 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet with the remaining teaspoon of oil or sprinkle liberally with the cornmeal.
Place coconut in shallow dish. In a large, heavy pot, bring 12 cups of water to a boil. In batches, add the bagels to the water and boil, turning, for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Place bagels onto the prepared sheet. While still moist, dip in coconut, pressing lightly to coat. Bake for 5 minutes, turn oven to 400 degrees and cook for another 20-30 minutes or until golden brown around edges. (The coconut will turn quite dark around the perimeter of the sheet.)
Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove and cool on wire rack. Serve with pineapple walnut cream cheese (Oh, I still need to figure out that recipe…).